Those in the poker world are accustomed to hearing about big bankroll pros having huge runs in online poker series. But a recreational player winning consistently in a PokerStars NJ series?
Well, a 36-year-old architect named Dan Lupo just took down five tournaments in Pokerstars’ New Jersey Spring Championship of Online Poker (NJSCOOP). The married father of three quite simply dominated.
What dominating NJSCOOP looks like
Originally from West Milford, Lupo now lives in Lopatcong. A devoted family man, Lupo’s online name “AvaGray” represents his 3-year-old twins – Ava and Grayson.
When it came time for the series, a few events stood out on the schedule. Here’s a look at all of his wins (with prizes):
- $55, 000 Guaranteed NLHE Sunday Special – $12,263
- $10,000 Guaranteed PLO Six-Max – $2,820
- $14,000 Guaranteed Eight-Game Mix – $6,627
- $10,000 Guaranteed NLHE Turbo – $3,901
- $10k Guaranteed PLO Win the Button – $3,814
Late in the series, Lupo also finished second in the $300 NLHE High Roller Six-Max for $11,269. He also had two third-place finishes.
In total, he collected $40,694 for his performances – not bad for a guy with a day job.
As evidenced by the variety of wins, Lupo likes many different poker games. That doesn’t mean Lupo can’t play some Hold’em – he took home two NLHE titles too. Still, the variation is one of the things he likes the most.
“I had a lot of confidence coming into the series,” he said. “(I was) feeling good about my game and excited for the variety of mixed games and even all the no limit hold’em variants.”
He went on to say that he’d taken things easy in the weeks leading up to the NJSCOOP. Much of that time went to projects around the house and spending time with his two children.
“So, coming into the series, I felt pretty refreshed and ready,” Lupo said. “Beyond that, I (was) fortunate to run pretty well overall, mostly in some key spots and pots.”
Poker and healthy family life are a tough pairing
While he may have run well, his five NJSCOOP titles seem beyond expectations. Lupo used to play about three multi-table tournaments a week, but he has increased that amount in the past year.
His results certainly have been good. However, the increased volume is not without challenges, and not just on the felt.
“I love playing poker, but the MTT grind and a nine-to-five aren’t always the best of friends,” he said. “I’ve been trying to work on my cash game abilities so I can balance poker and sleep a little more.”
Balancing family life for events like the NJSCOOP has also been difficult.
“During a series like this, I’ll play as much as I can around my family life,” he said. “I usually late register so I can have dinner and play time with my kids and then help get them into bed. My wife has been amazing in understanding when I need to start earlier for some events or on Sundays.”
Of course, after scoring so many times, an obvious question comes to mind: what will he do with his winnings?
Padding his bankroll a bit is first, as he is anticipating “an inevitable downswing at some point.” A few pieces of friends’ WSOP action may also be in the works.
But another idea befitting a family man seems appropriate.
“I’ll probably just give my wife a spa day or something like that,” he said, laughing. “So, she can unwind after having to shoulder that much more of the family load during a series like this.”
NJ has a tight-knit, competitive poker scene
Lupo’s success is partially the product of his environment, too. As other New Jersey players have said, the in-state market may not be huge, but there’s a tight-knit group of excellent players.
“The poker scene in New Jersey is different for everyone, in my opinion,” Lupo said. “I think it’s created some very strong players, or made already strong players even better.”
However, the scene’s limited size means that New Jersey is going to have to broaden its horizons soon. There are only so many dollars in one place. Lupo voiced his frustration about the situation.
“Unfortunately, I think NJ is in need of help from the expansion of regulated poker into other states, as the player pool is dwindling during the regular day-to-day stuff,” he said. “I would really hope this upcoming Wire Act decision works in our favor. It’s really absurd that US poker players can’t play online poker on regulated sites.”